Criminal Justice Reform in Ohio

Problem

Ohio has the 15th largest prison population in the United States. In 1984, there were only 18,500 inmates, and in 2019, the population surged to 48,988 prisoners.

Solution

  • In 2014, legislation allowed counties in the state to establish alternative sentencing centers, such as work-release detention centers for people sentenced to 90 days for a misdemeanor. Previously, only those sentenced to 30 or 60-day sentences were eligible to participate.
  • Also in 2014, Ohio passed legislation that requires mens rea in criminal conviction.
  • In 2015, former Governor John Kasich (R) signed “ban the box” legislation that prohibits public employers from including any question about the applicant’s criminal background in any written application for employment.
  • In 2017, Ohio passed legislation that protects private property rights and requires criminal conviction before seizing assets.
  • In 2019, Ohio introduced new legislation that would implement more rehabilitative programs for drug abusers and help reduce the recidivism rate.

Results

Ohio has done fantastic in the past by implementing laws which prevent overcriminalization, and offer alternative sentencing and rehabilitation. There are many other states who have implemented similar policies and have seen great results. Texas and Georgia, for example, both implemented reforms that establish drug courts that reduce the length of sentences, leading to incredible results. By implementing legislation that bans the box, Ohio makes it easier for ex-offenders to get jobs more easily, which decreases the risk of recidivism.

Identification of legislation should not be considered an endorsement of support of, or opposition to, such bills.